Tom's Take Blog
November 28, 2018
As telemedicine sees increased utilization rates, what areas will it expand to beyond primary care?
Tom’s Take: When the idea behind telemedicine was first rolled out to the masses, the emphasis was on primary care and how these virtual visits could improve things like accessibility and convenience. But as time has gone on and people – from providers to patients – have realized the many benefits of telemedicine, the uses for this state-of-the-art solution seem to be multiplying.
We’re at a point where telemedicine is being relied on for much more than common ailments like allergies and earaches. Hospitals and specialty clinics alike are finding creative, effective ways to use telehealth to better serve their patient populations.
In the hospital setting, for example, I’ve been reading up on larger facilities that are implementing telemedicine services to help manage their emergency rooms. If patients can’t be seen right away, they are connected to a doctor via video conferencing and an exam is done in combination with the on-site triage nurses. This is helping ease congestion in busy ERs and allocate provider resources based on the severity of incoming cases. Another example of telehealth is happening at smaller hospitals that have less staffing and/or limited overnight coverage. As providers need help with cases related to ICU or critical care patients, they are teleconferencing with other specialists across the country for added support.
Along with hospitals, many specialty clinics like dermatology, urology and cardiology are also implementing telemedicine as an option for care. These e-visits are especially helpful for patients who require remote monitoring or ongoing treatment. Pediatrics is another one to add to the list. The biggest benefit here is pretty obvious – a tele-consult from home eliminates the need to bring in a child who’s already feeling miserable!
It’s pretty exciting to see what kind of impact technology is having on patient care in the world of telemedicine. If the rapid rate of advancement and implementation is any indicator, I’d say primary care was just the beginning in how e-visits will be used!